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CELLS

(Scribe 2022)

Forthcoming November 2022.

Memories for My Mother.

Gavin is spending the quarantine in a small flat in south Dublin with his eighty-year-old mother, whose mind is slowly slipping away. He has lived most of his adult life abroad and has returned home to care for her and to write a novel. But he finds that all he can write about is her.

Moving through a sequence of remembered rooms — the 'cells' — Gavin unspools an intimate story of his upbringing and early adulthood: feeling out of place in the insular suburb in which he grew up, the homophobic bullying he suffered at school, his brother’s mental illness and drug addiction, his father’s sudden death, his own devastating diagnosis, his struggles and triumphs as a writer, and above all, always, his relationship with his mother. Her brightness shines a light over his childhood, but her betrayal of his teenage self leads to years of resentment and disconnection. Now, he must find a way to reconcile with her, before it is too late.

Written with unusual frankness and urgency, Cells is at once an uncovering of filial love and its limits, and a coming to terms with separation and loss.  

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THE SISTERS MAO

(Scribe 2021)

Against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution and Europe’s sexual revolution, the fates of two families in London and Beijing become unexpectedly intertwined, in this dazzling new novel from the author of Mrs Engels.

In London, sisters Iris and Eva, members of a radical performance collective, plan an attack on the West End theatre where their mother is playing the title role in Miss Julie. Meanwhile in Beijing, Jiang Qing, Chairman Mao’s wife, rehearses a gala performance of her model ballet, The Red Detachment of Women, which she will use in order to attack her enemies in the Party.

As the preparations for these two astonishing performances unfold, Iris, Eva, and Jiang Qing are transformed into unforgettable protagonists in a single epic drama. The three ‘sisters’, although fighting very different personal battles, find themselves bound together by the passions of love, by the obsessions of power, and by the forces of history.

Exquisitely observed, relevant, and wise, The Sisters Mao shows us that the political is always personal.

Read reviews here.

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MRS ENGELS
(Scribe 2015)

 

In September 1870 a train leaves Manchester bound for London. On board is Lizzie Burns, a poor worker from the Irish slums, who is embarking on the journey that will change her forever. Sitting in the first-class carriage beside her lover, the wealthy mill-owner Frederick Engels, the vision of a life of peace and comfort takes shape before her eyes: finally, at nearly fifty, she is to be the lady of a house and the wife to a man. Perhaps now she can put the difficulties of the past behind her, and be happy?

 

In Gavin McCrea’s stunning debut novel, we follow Lizzie as the promise of an easy existence in the capital slips from her view, and as she gains, in its place, a profound understanding of herself and of the world. While Frederick and his friend Karl Marx try to spur revolution among the working classes, Lizzie is compelled to undertake a revolution of another kind: of the heart and the soul.

Wry, astute and often hilarious, Lizzie is as compelling and charismatic a figure as ever walked the streets of Victorian England, or its novels.

Read reviews here.